Guest Post of Awesomosity: Rosie Best, Author of Skulk…

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skulkAhoy me hearties! You’ve made a canny choice jumping aboard the good ship Bookshelf today, because as a result you get to read a post by Rosie Best, author of Skulk – foxy, new-release, young adult, urban fantasy novel that I reviewed very recently indeed….in case you missed it, you can find that review here.

So who is this Rosie Best character? Here’s the lowdown, thanks to her publisher, Strange Chemistry

Rosie Best lives in London and loves all things nerdy. She is an editor at Working Partners Ltd, working on a huge variety of projects from first chapter books about unicorns to dark YA journeys through the land of the dead.

She’s also written for Working Partners on a freelance basis, on series published by Usborne and Hot Key Books.

The opening of Skulk won a place in the 2012 Undiscovered Voices anthology. When not writing or indulging a passion for video games, she sings with the Crouch End Festival Chorus.

And guess what else? She likes Ben Aaronovitch and Neil Gaiman too…clearly she has impeccable taste in authors, just like we shelf-dwellers.

For today’s post, Rosie is sharing a bit about why London is the perfect location for Meg’s adventures in Skulk….

Skulking Around London rosie best

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, but I bloody love London town. I consider myself deeply privileged to have done most of my growing up here, and when I realised I was going to write an urban fantasy there was no question at all in my mind where it was going to be set.

Skulk is the story of Meg Banks, a girl from an upper class London family who’s out graffitiing her posh girl’s school in the middle of the night when she witnesses the death of a fox who shapeshifts into a man. She inherits his ability to shift, and soon gets caught up in a conflict between the shapeshifters and someone who’ll do anything for power.

‘Write what you know’ is advice that can seem reductive and annoying, but I ended up following it when I was writing Skulk, almost by mistake. Even though I was actually writing a story about shapeshifters and magic, I ended up naturally filling Skulk with things that fit, that I knew could be believably found somewhere within the M25. Urban foxes, the ravens in the Tower, spiders and rats, and yes, butterflies. Pigeons and fog (even though the last great London fog happened in the 1960s). Hyde Park and Waterloo Bridge, the Tower of London and the top of the Shard.

Sometimes I worried that putting in so many of the famous locations would make the book feel like a tourist’s version of London. There’s a subtle but very important difference between using the royal family and the red double decker busses and a nice cup of tea because they’re realities of life in London, and using them to suggest some kind of strangely glossy paradise full of polite white men in bowler hats.

That’s not London – the real city is staggeringly diverse, both in terms of the landscape and the people. I hope that a little bit of grit rubs off on the bright, shiny places from the less glamorous corners of this fabulous city that also made it into the book – the traveller park under the Westway flyover, Willesden Junction tube station, the dodgy part of Hammersmith.

I’ve been wondering whether Skulk could be set somewhere else, and I think it could – I can imagine the New York version, the Delhi version, the Sydney version (that one would have the biggest spiders). I think those would be cool books, but I know I couldn’t write them.

There are a couple of books I have to acknowledge as huge influences on the way I think and write about London:

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman – for my generation this is the book (and originally the TV series) that got half of us into urban fantasy in the first place. Richard Mayhew helps a homeless girl and discovers a whole secret world just under the surface of London life. Tube station names like Earl’s Court and Blackfriars become wonderfully literal, and all sorts of real locations feature in weird, fantasy-tinged ways.

Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch – much more recent, but no less brilliant. This is the story of Peter Grant, a Metropolitan Police Officer who sees a ghost at a murder scene and finds out that magic is real and people are committing crimes with it. It’s an urban fantasy police procedural, and because the main character is an architecture nerd it comes with a healthy (and surprisingly compelling) helping of London history.

Harry Potter – this is a bit of a strange choice, because almost all of it is set in Wizarding Scotland. But JK Rowling also writes about the muggle world with an insightful truthfulness that’s just as brilliant as the wild fantastical world of Hogwarts. Plus, I love that JK created a London landmark of her very own that stuck so fiercely in people’s minds that it now really exists – at least, there’s a sign for Platform 9 3/4 and half a trolley sticking out of a wall in King’s Cross station.

If you want to read more from Rosie (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?), you can check out her blog at http://skulkingwriter.blogspot.com.au/    In the meantime, you should probably go and immediately get your hands on a copy of Skulk. I have made that bit easy for you – just click on the cover image at the top of the page to be taken to the Book Depository, where you can spend your hard-earned (or ill-gotten) cash*

As this post is part of a blog tour, you can multiply your Skulky pleasure exponentially by visiting other foxy bloggers over the course of the next month – just go to http://skulkingwriter.blogspot.co.uk/p/skulk-blog-tour.html and follow the trail!

Until next time,

Bruce

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Monstrously Awesome: Goodies for those who type…

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Be you blogger, author or internet troll, have I got a find for you! Given that it’s winter round my neck of the shelf, I thought it was high time to consider the very real problem of typing-related hand-chilliness.  While pondering ways to overcome this issue, I came across two fantastically fashionable solutions…..

Looking for ways to brighten up the unending toil that is writing (or reading) an epic fantasy novel? Look no further than these stylish dragon or monster knitted fingerless gloves by HotScones, available at etsy.com:

And while these next ones aren’t fingerless – perhaps more suited to readers rather than typists – the little grizzly faces are just darling!
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Next up from Scoper Monstar and also available at etsy.com are these absolute gems for the more flamboyant icy-fingered literacy fan.  This first offering is perfect for the out-there author of that ground-breaking book exposing bet-fixing scandals in miniature goat racing – fingerless hooves!

 

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And for the fan of horror or the late-night reader of Where the Wild Things Are, who could go past these fantastic monster paws (available in a wide range of colours!)?:
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Both of these provide snuggly warmth to your hands while allowing your fingers to get on with the business of doin’ stuff!

Click on the pictures above to be taken straight to the etsy shops of these fine craftspeople!

Until next time, may your every paw be cosy!

Bruce

 

 

 

Ode to an Author: Neil Gaiman

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Mad Martha again! Today’s Ode is to that extraordinary, quirky, kooky, master of the slightly left-of-centre, Neil Gaiman.  Author of the Sandman series of graphic novels, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, Stardust, Neverwhere and many others, his writing never fails to hit an attention-grabbing note.  If you have never indulged in one of his books before, you should put it on your to-do list today!

Neil Gaiman is a vision’ry; a dream (or nightmare!) guide,

to nooks of wild imagining where haunts and shades reside.

From Bod and Agnes Nutter, down to plucky Coraline,

his daydreams and delusions foil attempts to be confined.

So should you wish to risk your boat on Gaiman’s oddball tide,

Sailor, best you gird your loins before you start the ride!

Ode to an Author: Agatha Christie

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Mad Martha would like her blogging debut to be the commencement of a series of poems entitled “Ode to an Author”.  Today’s subject will be the late, great Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie!

My eyes go misty

At your talent for myst’ry,

With plots so deep and twisty.

In all recorded hist’ry I’ve never loved so blissf’lly!

Your books will out-exist me!                                          

 When I am old and whisk’ry

My hands all gnarled and blist’ry,

I’ll think of you so whistf’lly:

and how I NEVER, EVER, EVER pick the killer.

EVER!

How do you do it woman??!

It’s very frustrating.